Agriculture is one of the most important pillars of the Indian economy. The contribution of agriculture and its allied sectors to India’s GDP stood at 13.9% during 2013-14 (Agriculture 2013). More than half of the Indian population is dependent on agriculture for its subsistence. Since the beginning years of economic development, it has been one of the main drivers of growth of the economy as it supplies was a major source of raw materials to most of the manufacturers.
In spite of its great significance to the Indian economy, the share of agriculture and its allied activities in India’s GDP is continuously declining over the years. In 2009-10, it was 14.6% which declined to 13.9% in 2013-14 (Agriculture 2013). The following figure depicts the trend in the agriculture growth from 2007-08 to 2013-14 as compared to the overall GDP growth.
Scarcity of water is a major problem faced by the farmers
India is home to 16% of the world’s population and it is endowed with only 4% of the total available fresh water (Division 2007). In addition to the growing pressure over the water resources within the country, there is a high regional disparity in the availability of water resources and which is further accentuated by the growing demand for drinking water and other necessities accompanied by the rapid pace of industrialization and urbanization. Under utilization of existing irrigation resources due to the lack of field channels and other minor investments has also become the area of high concern, as far as agricultural productivity is concerned (Division 2007).
Infertile land and lack of infrastructure in the agriculture sector
Another major problem responsible for low agricultural productivity is that the soil is contaminated by the increasing level of river and canal pollution which is caused by high industrial effluents and toxic metals day by day (Division 2007). Furthermore, soil erosion which is one of the significant causes for land degradation is also taking place at rapid pace by ravine and gully formation, water logging, and shifting cultivation. Inappropriate use of fertilizers and pesticides also causes lack of nutrients in the soil that are necessary for healthy agricultural productivity.
India lacks modernized infrastructure for promoting the agriculture sector. Rudimentary policies and old fashioned equipment’s and practices used by farmers in India are not sustainable, resulting in low yield for many agricultural commodities (Dwivedy 2011). Low level investment coupled with the use of obsolete technologies results in declined production, inefficiency and higher costs that in turn becomes one of the causes for food inflation (Dwivedy 2011).
Illiteracy and inequality and lack of finances
Illiteracy, lack of awareness about recent developments in the field of agriculturel, and poor socio-economic background of the farmers are some of the fundamental reasons for continuously decreasing agricultural productivity. In addition to this, high level of income gap between rich and poor farmers, agricultural and non agricultural employees are are responsible for non-fulfillment of even the basic necessities of Indian farmers (Dwivedi 2011, Division 2007).
Inadequate finance, untimely finance and inconsistent or contradictory policies of government have aggravated farmers’ problems severely (Dwivedy 2011). Timely and sufficient availability of credit on regular basis is one of the enabling factors that are responsible for high agricultural output. Availability of formal credit influences the output in many dimensions; for instance, it can be used to purchase good quality seeds during the seeding season that enables a farmer to maximize the yield over the cultivated area or it can also be used to replace the informal credit which is more often than not accompanied by high rate of interest (Narayanan 2015).
Gravity of the problem
Agriculture, especially in the context of India, constitutes the back bone of the whole economic system. It provides employment opportunities to millions of Indians in addition to providing necessary inputs for high industrial growth. It also supplies fodder for India’s huge livestock and has become a major way to earn foreign currency. Therefore, required attention in the form of realistic policy measures such as timely availability of formal credit and other inputs to the farmers, creating the awareness about policies and programs of the government meant for educating the farmers through different media platforms is the need of hour on the part of the Indian government. Agricultural growth can be seen as an enabler of the overall economic growth of India.
- Agriculture, D. of, 2013. Annual Report(2013-14), Delhi. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/C3CC90220J [Accessed November 2, 2015].
- Division, B., 2007. Report of the Expert Group on Agricultural Indebtedness. Ministry of Finance. Available at: http://www.igidr.ac.in/pdf/publication/PP-059.pdf [Accessed November 2, 2015].
- Dwivedy, N., 2011. Challenges faced by the Agriculture Sector in Developing Countries with special reference to India. International Journal of Rural Studies, 18(2), pp.2–7. Available at: http://www.vri-online.org.uk/ijrs/Oct2011/Challenges faced by the Agriculture Sector in India.pdf [Accessed November 2, 2015].
- FAO, 2015. The Impact of Natural Hazards and Disasters on Agriculture and Food Security and Nutrition, Itlay. Available at: http://www.fao.org/3/a-i4434e.pdf [Accessed November 3, 2015].
- Narayanan, S., 2015. The Productivity of agricultural credit in India. Indira Gandhi Institute of Develoment Research. Available at: http://www.igidr.ac.in/pdf/publication/WP-2015-01.pdf [Accessed November 2, 2015].